rhus tox

Troubled by a rash with blistering eruptions? You would most likely turn to the remedy, Rhus Toxicodendron, or Rhus Tox, for relief.

This remedy derives from the poison ivy plant and is typically used to treat exposure to poison ivy or poison oak. In the world of horses, however, Rhus Tox has greater application as a treatment for common arthritic conditions.

Signs that indicate the need for Rhus Tox will always involve some form of stiffness, rigidity or resistance. Even if symptoms are skin-related, you will find examples of these qualities. Elements of closing and stiffening are found in conjunction with opening and movement, so the horse seems to be doing one thing, and its opposite, at the same time.

Physical rigidity or stiffness can be a protective response toward a previous injury or even a result of chronic Lyme disease. Cold and damp conditions aggravate symptoms, which improve with warmth and movement. This type of horse seems aloof or distant. She wants to move and is very athletic. Although she will warm out of stiffness, fatigue will bring it back on. The most important and distinct sign is a worsening from first movement with improvement on continued motion. In spite of lameness or rheumatic conditions, the animal will be restless.

Consider Rhus Tox in conditions similar to the following:
• Back pain and subluxation that worsens with cold air and from being still
• Blistering rashes leading to itching
• Eye conditions where lids are prominently swollen or swollen shut
• Inflammation of the eyes from cold, damp weather
• Swelling and tenderness of lymphatic vessels with stiffness of the limbs
• Generalized muscular stiffness
• Lameness improved by exercise
• Any type of arthritis where the animal improves with movement
• Weakness in the joints following sprains. Repeated strains and sprains, seemingly without cause, often indicate the need for Rhus Tox as long as other Rhus Tox characteristics are present, such as restlessness, aggravation from rest and dampness, and improvement from warmth and continued movement.

Below is the cyclical presentation that makes up the Rhus Tox picture. Each element listed includes examples that reflect these qualities. Look for aspects that represent each idea to determine if Rhus Tox is the right match for your horse’s condition.

Localized weakness – tremulous weakness, musculoskeletal problems

Splinting/tightening/rigidity – pain and stiffness in the lumbar region, stiff/thick skin Increasing tightnesss; stiff, hard, rigid, inflexible – neck stiffness, a closed personality

Feeling claustrophobic, too tight and stiff – soreness of the abdomen, a desire to escape

Need to move but worse on first movement – oppressed respiration after eating, drowsiness after eating, discharge of mucus upon waking

Feel good/better from continued movement – better walking in open air, restlessness, likes to work

Need to rest – weakness, weariness, or helplessness

Keep an eye out for Rhus Tox symptoms in the winter or during other cold, damp times when signs would be the most apparent. Pay attention to your horse’s response to exercise in order to spot the need for this remedy. In addition, if stiffness and rigidity come strongly to mind, consider whether your case matches the Rhus Tox cycle.

Susan Guran is a Homeopathic Practitioner and Therapeutic Riding Instructor living and working in Vermont. HomeopathyHorse.com